Multiple demonstrations pushing for racial justice took place across Boston Wednesday evening, a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Several of the demonstrations at South Station, Nubian Square and the State House were stymied by pouring sheets of rain and the occasional thunderclap and bolt of lightning. Turnout, particularly at South Station and the State House, was low, with just a handful of demonstrators. Roughly 100 people gathered in Nubian Square.
Local activists said Wednesday's protests were about reminding local leaders there is still work to do, from implementing police reforms, to reopening cases against police officers accused of killing people.
Monica Cannon-Grant, who organized the protest starting in Nubian Square, said people's outrage about George Floyd's death was what led to the charges and conviction.
"It wasn't the work of elected officials that got this," she said. "It was activists and organizers and community members that got this verdict. And the Floyd family who got this verdict. So we’re going to keep protesting and keep showing up because it’s working."
She told the crowd that Chauvin's conviction isn't enough. Nor is reform.
“We’re not going to reform racism," she said. "So reform is not coming out of my mouth. Get rid of the whole damn system."
Protesters said accountability goes beyond just Chauvin. Protester Jay Dee, of Dorchester, said he doesn’t just blame the police officer for Floyd’s death.
"It’s the policing system itself and it is the racist actions of the U.S. government that are all ultimately to blame," he said.
Marshall Cooper, 85, said he's grateful he can protest for racial justice.
"They found a police man guilty, that's just one step," he said. "That's a start. We got a long way to go in a long fight. And I'm gonna try to fight until I get 100 years old."
At the State House, a rally organized by Mass. Action Against Police Brutality brought together families of those killed by police and their supporters.
Jennifer Bannon Root's brother, Juston Root, was shot and killed by five Boston police officers and a state trooper in February 2020. Police say he had a pellet gun on him.
She said George Floyd represents all the families.
"There were a lot of George Floyds before him," she said. "And so we’re here today unified and making sure we keep this on people’s radar. This is a very important issue. We need accountability. We need transparency and we need justice."
The Norfolk County district attorney's office ruled the shooting that killed Root justified. An earlier shooting in front of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is still under investigation by the Suffolk County district attorney's office, and by Boston police. Root Bannon said police departments should not be allowed to investigate themselves.
Speaking at the State House, organizer Brock Satter said it took the world coming out onto the streets last summer to get Chauvin convicted. There's still more work to be done, he said, and more prosecutions that need to go forward.
"It's in all of our interests that if crimes are being committed by the government, that they be prosecuted to the fullest extent," he said. "We can't live in a society where crimes are being committed by police officers and then being not punished."
John Harris, a founder of the Boston May Day Coalition, gathered with a small group at South Station. He said justice means seeing hundreds of police officers jailed for murder.
"I think this was a victory, but a rather small victory," he said. "So we have a lot of work to do. We have a long road ahead of us. We have to continue building a mass social movement if we want to see significant justice in this country."
Gov. Charlie Baker has activated up to 1,000 members of the National Guard to respond, but the state only plans to deploy them if local agencies request it. So far on Wednesday, no agency had requested help.
With reporting from WBUR's Shannon Dooling, Deborah Becker, Anthony Brooks, Quincy Walters and Meghan Kelly.
This article was originally published on April 21, 2021.
This segment aired on April 22, 2021.